Regional

Johnson & Johnson charged by New York with civil insurance fraud over opioid claims

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state filed civil charges on Thursday accusing Johnson & Johnson of insurance fraud for downplaying the risks of opioid painkillers, including to doctors and elderly patients. J&J and its...

Facebook says it will no longer show health groups in recommendations

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc <FB.O> will no longer show health groups in its recommendations, the social media giant announced on Thursday, saying it was crucial that people get health information from “authoritative sources.” Over the last year, the company took down more than 1 million groups that violated Facebook’s policies on misinformation and harmful content,...

Burned out and abused: French COVID-19 testers strike over work conditions

PARIS (Reuters) – Hundreds of workers at COVID-19 laboratories in France went on strike on Thursday, a trade union said, angry over poor working conditions as the coronavirus testing system buckles under huge demand. The hard-left CGT union said the strike was disrupting testing in some towns and could drag on if laboratory owners failed...

Burned jaguars, fire tornadoes: Blazes in Brazil wetland deliver climate warning

POCONÉ, Brazil (Reuters) – A fire has been burning since mid-July in the remote wetlands of west-central Brazil, leaving in its wake a vast charred desolation bigger than New York City. A team of veterinarians, biologists and local guides arrived in late August to prowl the bumpy dirt road known as the Trans-Pantanal Highway in...

Countries can end COVID-19 by working together in solidarity – Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister

In the Declaration on the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, governments and heads of state acknowledge that only by working together in solidarity can countries end the pandemic and effectively tackle its consequences. This has been the message shared by Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Jaushieh...

Uganda reverses forest destruction by inviting in … loggers

KALAGALA, Uganda (Reuters) – For decades, farmers hungry for land and families needing firewood whittled away at Uganda’s forests, home to endangered gorillas, elephants and chimpanzees. Now the decline has reversed, thanks to a government policy that relies on loggers to help protect trees. Private companies are developing timber plantations as buffers next to protected...

Fiji’s Registrar of Political Parties request meeting with NFP accounts team, auditor

Fiji’s Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem has requested a meeting with the National Federation Party’s (NFP) accounts team so issues identified by the verification team are conveyed to all parties. Mr Saneem called for the meeting this afternoon after receiving confirmation that the NFP had appointed an auditor – recognised by the Fiji Institute...

Delta taps $9 billion in financing against loyalty program

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines <DAL.N> said on Thursday it is raising $9 billion, $2.5 billion more than its previous estimates, through new bonds and loans backed by its SkyMiles loyalty program, as it attempts to strengthen its coronavirus-roiled finances. U.S. airlines have cut costs and raised debt to survive what they call an unprecedented...

Israel closes schools again as COVID-19 cases surge

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel closed its schools on Thursday, a day before entering a second national coronavirus lockdown, as daily infections topped 4,500. The initial lockdown was imposed in late March and eased in May, when the number of new cases dropped to about 20 a day. Israeli leaders have acknowledged they lifted restrictions too...

‘Big Guns’: Top Funding for FijiFirst

The FijiFirst party has been mostly funded by “big guns” of the local business community. This, according to Labasa businessman Charan Jeath Singh who claimed he received a list yesterday containing the names of donors from the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) after he made a formal request. He said he could not release a copy...

White House suggests Congress pass standalone bill to help U.S. airlines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Giving U.S. airlines $25 billion in aid over the next six months could save more than 30,000 jobs, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Thursday after meeting with the companies’ top executives, suggesting lawmakers approve a separate assistance package for the struggling corporations. Congress has been deadlocked over...

EU details energy savings and renewables push to reach tougher climate target

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union needs to hike its renewable energy and energy saving targets, according to its analysis published on Thursday of how the bloc could make deeper emissions cuts this decade. The European Commission wants the EU to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, against 1990 levels,...

New law to protect Thai fishermen seen boosting child labour

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Teenagers could work as unpaid interns on Thai fishing vessels in a proposed change to the law that activists fear will encourage child labour. An amendment to a ministerial regulation – aimed at protecting workers – underwent a public hearing on Thursday in answer to years of global criticism over...

WHO says more than 170 countries have joined COVAX vaccine facility

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – More than 170 countries have joined the World Health Organisation’s COVAX global vaccine plan to help buy and distribute immunisation shots for COVID-19 fairly around the world, the body’s director general said. “More than 170 countries have joined the COVAX facility, gaining guaranteed access to the world’s largest portfolio of vaccine candidates,”...

Desperate migrants jump overboard from charity boat off Italy

ROME (Reuters) – Some 70 migrants jumped overboard from the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms on Thursday, in an attempt to swim to the nearby southern Italian city of Palermo. Those who jumped into the sea, part of a group of more than 270 people, were picked up by Italian coastguard and police ships. The...

Fiji can expect new innovative programs to support green growth investments

Fiji can expect new innovative programs supporting ‘Green Growth Investments’ to emerge through strengthened engagements between the Fijian Government and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international organisation dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing economies. This was emphasised at a meeting held on Monday this week between...

Sally weakens to tropical depression, leaves massive floods on U.S. Gulf Coast

PERDIDO KEY, Florida (Reuters) – The remnants of Hurricane Sally dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia on Thursday, killed at least one person, washed out bridges and roads and left hundreds of thousands without power and others with ruined homes. Sally brought torrential rains and flash flooding...

U.S reaffirms commitment to work closely with Fiji and the region

The United States of America has reaffirmed its commitment to work closely with Fiji and the region in advancing the shared vision of building lasting peace and prosperity. This was the key message of the commemoration of the 244th anniversary of Independence celebrations with the theme “Stars and Stripes Forever”. The program, organised by the...

17th September

New Caledonia nears referendum without polls

With less than three weeks to go until New Caledonia’s next referendum on independence from France, no opinion poll has been released. According to the public broadcaster La Premiere, at least three polls had been commissioned but its findings were not being published. In the lead-up to the first independence referendum in 2018, opinion polls suggested...

Covid-19 threatens routine Pacific immunisation: UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund is warning the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening child immunisation routines in the Pacific. The region was hit with a measles outbreak last year, particularly Samoa where 83 people, mostly children, died. The UN agency revealed there had been a decline in child vaccination coverage in the region, as the pandemic...

Solomons govt criticised for delayed repatriation

The Solomon Islands government is being criticised for being slow to repatriate over 300 students in the Phillipines with some now testing positive for Covid-19. The students have been asking to be repatriated since the start of the pandemic in March but the first flights have only been scheduled this month. The Leader of the Opposition,...

French Polynesia reports another 72 Covid-19 cases

French Polynesia has recorded another 72 Covid-19 cases since yesterday, raising its total number confirmed cases to date to 1171. 1109 of them were detected since the beginning of August after the government and the French High Commission opened the border and abolished mandatory quarantine requirements to boost tourism. The President Edouard Fritch said the...

Embattled Northern Marianas hospital may lose 17 nurses

The Northern Marianas lone hospital may lose 17 nurses and radiology technician because their work visas have expired. The Commonwealth Heallth Center, which has to constantly battle funding and staffing issues, has employed the 18 personnel for many years. Governor Ralph Torres’ appealed to the US Labor Secretary, Eugene Scalia, in the hope the visas...

Message of thanks from family of late Cooks leader

The family of the late Cook Islands prime minister, Joe Williams, has thanked the Pacific community for the outpouring of support. Dr Williams died earlier this month of Covid-19 in Auckland, where he was working as a physician in the latest outbreak. In a statement released through the Pasifika Medical Association, of which he was...

Samoa PM rules out appointing a deputy before elections

Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuialepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has announced that there will be no deputy prime minister appointed until after next year’s General Elections. His former deputy, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, resigned from cabinet last week, also vacating the Natural Resources and Environment ministerial portfolio. Speaking on TV3 television, Tuilaepa said he has decided that he would...

Union rally to be held in New Caledonia over sale of Vale nickel plant

New Caledonia’s leading union umbrella group has called for a rally today over the sale of the Vale nickel plant. Usoenc wants the sale process to be extended to six months after Vale said it planned to close its plant at the end of October if no buyer was found. It said the time frame...

Fiji Navy evacuates injured NZ yachtie

A New Zealand man has been evacuated from his yacht in Fiji and taken to a hospital for medical treatment. The Fiji Navy says it was alerted to a distress call from the 33-year-old man’s boat in Lau on Sunday. A naval vessel and a medical team from the Health Ministry were deployed to Fulaga...

PNG citizens urged to work together by PM

As Papua New Guinea marked its independence anniversary the Prime Minister urged all citizens to help build a “better” PNG. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of PNG gaining independence. Due to Covid-19-related restrictions, there were limited public events to mark the occasion. However, James Marape addressed the nation at a flag-raising ceremony in Port Moresby....

Air New Zealand plans to cut up to 385 more cabin crew jobs

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Air New Zealand Ltd <AIR.NZ> said on Wednesday it aims to cut up to 385 more cabin crew jobs due to the lack of long-haul international flying, which would take its COVID-19 related job losses to around 37% of its workforce. The percentage figure is higher than the cuts to nearly 30%...

Headaches and hospital visits as wildfire smoke blankets the U.S. West

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – The splitting headaches began when smoke from wildfires rolled in around Tim Hunt’s suburban Seattle home. Next came a debilitating fatigue. As deadly wildfires rage across the U.S. West, Hunt and others are struggling with some of the world’s worst air pollution. “I get out of bed to eat and drink...

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